Leeds achieves international environmental accreditation

The University is celebrating reaching the ISO14001 standard for environmental management.

By bringing construction activity into the EMS we are able to systematically improve our approach, helping to ensure sustainability is considered across all types of construction project.


The new Environmental Management System is part of ongoing work to embed sustainability within the University.  It offers a systematic and transparent way of managing our environmental objectives and targets, reducing our impacts and supporting compliance against environmental legislation. Supported by a series of guides, procedures and standards there is particular focus on:

  • energy and water  use
  • managing our reuse, recycling and waste
  • enhancing biodiversity
  • reducing travel imapcts
  • use and disposal of hazardous substances
  • reducing construction impacts
  • purchasing impacts/opportunities

Sustainability Manager James Dixon-Gough explains: “Reaching the ISO14001 standard is becoming more important to commercial research funders, and it’s likely to be required by others, including HEFCE, in future.  We’ve developed a system that will add real value to environmental management at Leeds. The University has an ambitious Sustainability Strategy and systems such as ISO14001 are important in helping us deliver this.

“The system means that we have to be much more active in monitoring and checking environmental performance. Through regular audits we’re discovering opportunities to improve our approach, but also lots of good practice that we can share.  The need to comply with the standard means there is additional pressure to take action if we find that we are falling short on targets, and it encourages staff to report lapses and suggest improvements.

“At a very basic level, the system helps us to ensure we are legally compliant and it’s important that staff realise how the system relates to them. For example, it’s quite common to find batteries and electronic equipment in our general waste. This not only contaminates our waste and increases the risk of pollution, but is also in breach of legislation.  Similarly, pouring oil or certain chemicals down a sink or into a drain could lead to a breach of the Water Resources Act and lead to substantial fines.

“It’s important to understand that this a University-wide achievement. We’ve developed it with the support and collaboration of staff  across the University, but in order to maintain certification, we’re also going to need continued support from staff.”

There is an online training module which all staff with computer access should complete, which can be found on the Sustainability Service website.

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